Malaysian PM resigns after failing to win majority support

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned less than 18 months after his term began on Monday, becoming the country’s shortest leader after conceding that he had lost majority support for govern.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned less than 18 months after his term began on Monday, becoming the country’s shortest leader after conceding that he had lost majority support for govern.

Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on Instagram that “the Cabinet handed over our resignation” to the king, shortly after Muhyiddin left the palace after meeting the monarch. Deputy Sports Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal also thanked Muhyiddin for his service and leadership in a Facebook Post.

Muhyidddin’s departure will plunge the country into a new crisis amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders have already started scrambling for the top post, with his deputy Ismail Sabri rallying support to succeed Muhyiddin and keep the government intact.

His resignation follows growing public anger over what has been widely seen as the mismanagement of the pandemic by his government. Malaysia has one of the highest per capita infection and death rates in the world, with daily cases exceeding 20,000 this month despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June to make in the face of the crisis.

Local media said the head of the national police, the chairman of the electoral commission and the attorney general were also summoned to the palace on Monday before Muhyiddin’s arrival. Muhyiddin, who chaired a Cabinet meeting at his office earlier on Monday, greeted reporters at the palace gate and left 40 minutes later. Muhyiddin is expected to hold a press conference later.

“Muhyiddin ruled on borrowed time. His bad governance, his focus on survival politics and his refusal to acknowledge his failures led to his downfall, ”said Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, an expert on Malaysian politics.

But his departure also put Malaysia in uncharted waters. “The focus is now on Malaysia’s peaceful transition to a new government capable of handling the crisis,” she said.

Muhyiddin’s government had had a very slim majority and had dodged the tests of leadership in Parliament from the start. He ultimately fell when more than a dozen lawmakers from his alliance’s largest party withdrew their support for his government. Two ministers from the United Malaysian National Organization also resigned from Cabinet ahead of Monday’s actions.

Under Malaysia’s constitution, the prime minister must resign if he loses majority support and the king can appoint a new leader who he believes has the confidence of parliament.

Muhyiddin initially insisted he still had majority support and would prove it in parliament next month. But in a turnaround on Friday, the prime minister asked for support from the opposition to strengthen his government. He has promised to call a general election by next July. He also offered concessions, including proposals to limit the prime minister’s tenure, strengthen checks and balances and a high-level ministerial role to the opposition leader, but his plea was rejected by all parties. .

The king can choose a new leader, but currently no coalition can claim a majority. A tripartite alliance, which is the largest opposition bloc, has named its leader Anwar Ibrahim as the candidate for prime minister. But the bloc has fewer than 90 lawmakers, below the 111 needed for a simple majority. It is also less than the 100 lawmakers who support Muhyiddin.

Other candidates include Deputy Prime Minister Ismail, of UMNO, but it is not clear whether a deal can be reached and whether the King will accept it. Some opposition lawmakers have also opposed such a deal, saying the entire Cabinet must step down for government failures.

Local media said another possible candidate was Razaleigh Hamzah, an 84-year-old prince who was a former finance minister. Razaleigh, who is a UMNO lawmaker, is seen as a neutral candidate who could unite warring factions in UMNO.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 96, called for a national recovery council to be formed and led by professionals to resolve the country’s economic and health crises.

Muhyiddin came to power in March 2020 after initiating the fall of the reformist government of Mahathir which won the 2018 elections. He withdrew his Bersatu party to join the UMNO-led coalition that had ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957, but was ousted in 2018 following a multibillion-dollar financial scandal. Mahathir abruptly resigned in protest against Bersatu’s plan to work with the old government.

Muhyiddin’s government is unstable because UMNO has not been satisfied with playing second fiddle to his small party. Muhyiddin interrupted parliament for months last year to bolster his support. He has suspended parliament again since January and ruled by ordinance without legislative approval in a state of coronavirus emergency that ended on August 1.

Eileen Ng, The Associated Press











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